Will the DIY termite stakes from hardware stores kill my termites for good?

I saw them at Home Depot but they look very small.

I’ve seen these sorts of DIY baits too. Way back, there was a court case where various groups once claimed that one retail bait system was not working properly. Stores kept selling them, but with a little warning on the box about how they weren’t quite the same as a professional treatment. The ones I bought said “not recommended as sole protection against termites, and for active infestations, get a professional inspection“. Companies don’t put things like that on their products unless they are forced to or need to so as to avoid liability. Even if the bait system was 95% foolproof, that warning might still be valid. Baits don’t make barriers.

Baiting has a long history, I began working on baiting in the mid 1980s and some work had been done a decade before that.

How big does a piece of wood have to be before your termites will be likely to find and eat it? Mostly a lot bigger than the little bits that are sold. You can overcome this by using lots more baits, but even with the best systems on the market you often have only one in ten being eaten. That’s why people tend to fork out for the professionals. Exterra and Sentricon have the bulk of the market but there are clones and newcomers.

Let’s say you’ve hand your house professionally inspected, so you’re fairly sure termites aren’t ripping into it yet. You could place your own baits around it as an early warning system. These can be just bits of tasty wood. If you put each one under a big paver, the squirrels won’t touch them and the termites will be more likely to find them (thermal shadow effect). Cheaper than retail products. When termites attack, do not disturb them any more than necessary and call in the professionals. You might try the old bait box method before you call them to build up a big feeding group that can be more easily poisoned. But don’t forget to check your baits often, or else they can become a stepping-stone for subterranean termite attacks on your house.

If you already have termites attacking, then just like the Spectracide bait label suggests, most people will call a professional. Look to the best way to spend your bucks.

If you are not afraid of soil poisons, then a trenched-and-backfilled perimeter spray of non-repellent poison may do what you want for less than a commercial baiting setup and you’ll have the advantage of a residual action. That way the next colony that comes along and tries will find something in the way.

Nowadays you can buy baits online, even sometimes the same ones the professionals use. Some companies are making a lot of money out of these baits. While I agree that there are some infestations that a homeowner can safely bait, there are many that require a great deal of skill and knowledge to achieve success. Telling the difference is why you should hire a professional inspector. When you feel sick, you might buy your own stethoscope and scalpel but do you really know enough to use them properly in every instance? That’s why a professional termite inspector should be your first port of call. Who knows? It may be that you can fix your own. How lucky do you feel? Can you afford to bet the house on your ability? If you get it wrong (and don’t know it) a bit later you may be looking at a lot of expensive damage as the termites keep on eating while you attempt their control.

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